Football News

Man City may regret not backing Pep Guardiola’s pursuit of Man Utd signing Harry Maguire – Gary Neville

By Steve Jennings

Published: 10:50, 4 September 2019

Aymeric Laporte’s injury has made Manchester City’s decision to end their summer pursuit of Harry Maguire all the more surprising, according to Gary Neville.

Maguire was being targeted by City but the champions suddenly dropped their interest, giving rivals Manchester United a free run at the England international.

How bad is Laporte’s injury? Five things to know…

  • Laporte was taken off on a stretcher in the first half of City’s win over Brighton.
  • Guardiola said “it doesn’t look good” after the game.
  • Man City have confirmed Laporte damaged his cartilage and lateral meniscus.
  • Laporte has now undergone surgery on his knee and looks set for a lengthy spell on the sidelines.
  • The 25-year-old will also miss the opportunity to make his senior debut for France this week.

City are now facing something of a crisis at centre-back following the knee injury Laporte suffered in Saturday’s 4-0 victory over Brighton, leaving Pep Guardiola with Nicolas Otamendi as his only fit centre-back.

John Stones is nearing a return while Kyle Walker or Fernandinho could step into the heart of defence, but Neville believes City shouldn’t have ignored the chance to sign Maguire before he went to United.

“I said a few weeks ago that I was struggling to understand why City didn’t follow through on Harry Maguire with Vincent Kompany leaving the club,” Neville told Sky Sports.

“I thought Kompany won them the league in the last 10 matches of last season when he played in all those games. Forget the Leicester moment which was just spectacular, I thought his leadership held them together at a time when Liverpool were applying pressure like you wouldn’t believe.

“In terms of that leader-type figure, I think Laporte has got that.”

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‘Laporte injury will cost City points’

City opted against signing a replacement for Kompany in the summer despite the Belgian’s huge contribution to last season’s title success.

A partnership of Kompany and Laporte got the champions through the run-in last term, with the former scoring a stunning winner against Leicester and Frenchman finding the net on the final day victory over Brighton.

And Neville thinks Laporte’s absence will harm City’s chances of winning a third-consecutive Premier League title.

He added: “What I would say is that if Laporte is out for a long time, I think it will cost City points because he is a dominant centre-back. I saw him in Spain three times and he’s a great player. It’s a real worry for City.

“Maguire would’ve been ideal. Manchester United did well to get him but I am surprised City didn’t really go for him alongside United. Maybe they did and they just pulled out because of the money in the end or whatever it was.

“I just think with Kompany leaving, he was Belgian, but he was an old-fashioned throw your head at it centre-back in both boxes that when you go to certain grounds in the Premier league you play.

“When balls flew into the box and the pressure-built, Vincent Kompany stood tall and made sure they all left.

“That’s the one downer out of the weekend for City and if I was a City fan it would worry me in the short-term and the medium-term, depending on how long he was out for.”

Manchester City face Norwich at Carrow Road after the international break.